22 August 2008

Lots of Public Access Practice, Eating, and Training with a Toy

Wow. We've been busy. Too busy to blog enough.

Two days ago when DH and I ran errands, I took Molly into a big store in town. For you Americans, it reminds me a lot of Best, if you remember those. You walk around the store and look at all the stuff. When you find something you want, you fill out the info on an order slip. When done shopping, you hand in the order slip and wait for them to get your purchases out of the back--in nice sealed packages and without anyone in the store having had the opportunity to fiddle with them. Some really cheap and special sale items you can just take out of bins, but most stuff works on the order slip method.

So anyway, the first time we were in the store ages ago, I'd seen someone come in and wander around a little while with a small dog on leash right past store people without anyone saying anything. It wasn't an SD. So I didn't bother about asking for permission, figuring I'd explain, apologize, and leave if asked. But no one said anything. So while DH returned the broken item we had, Molly and I walked around. She was so good!

Then DH also wanted to look at some other stuff so Molly and I went with. She continued being quiet and very well behaved. A very successful PA practice. Also the floor there is superslippery, so it is really good practice for the airport and other businesses.

Yesterday DH needed to go see the dentist for a follow-up so we went into town again. We sat down on a bench and worked on sit stays and mat for a while. Molly did really well and was much quieter and calmer this time. I think she'd just been a little excited the first time in town because of having been stuck home so much while in heat. She only made noise once and it was to bark once at a little kid wandering around alone. No idea why she barked at him. But maybe she was picking up on something I didn't notice. It was a 5-6 yr old boy walking through a busy town without any signs of an adult, so who knows. But parents are much more relaxed here in DK about leaving their kids alone, so it might have just been someone who lived locally.

This morning I started working on clicker training again. I got a lot of tips from Erin (Z's owner) so I am finally feeling confident that I won't devalue the clicker by not giving treats but playing instead. It showed me how way out of practice we are. I tried training Watch, a very important L3 behavior. She used to be able to give me 10-20 secs eye contact on command without much trouble, but I was lucky to get 10 this morning and she wasn't responding well to the cue. I realized I needed to back up and rebuild the behavior.

When I put the toy away, Molly wasn't happy--she really wanted to play with the squeaky yellow hedgehog, the only one she's ever had WITH squeaker (usually DH pulls them out for safety). I decided to use this excitement as a training opportunity and sat down near where the toy was on the shelf and invited Molly up on my lap on the sofa. After a while, she volunteered eye contact so I clicked and treated. In a little while, I got up to 15-20secs of voluntary eye contact. She was even offering eye contact while the toy was in her mouth. A few more days of this and I should be able to recue it and get her back on track for L3 watch.

As for eating, Molly got 1 handful yesterday morning (we went from one kibble the night before to the small approx. 32 piece handful). She immediately ate it and kept looking for more. So last night it was 2 handfuls, again eaten right away. This morning she got 4 and also devoured it.

We're going to stall out here at 4 handfuls for a little while. We want to wait to up it until she is reliably devouring that much _and_ looking for more. Then we can try building up really slowly.

I will try to get some pictures up a little later today if I can find time. I have tons to do, but Molly wants to report on her small friend that arrived in the mail yesterday, so I will try to find time to get pictures online for her.

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